21 November 2017

Further sabotage by the defense – but also impressive and moving closing statements.

Today Mehmet Daimagüler concluded his closing statement on behalf of the next of kin of Abdurrahim Özudoğru and Ismail Yaşar. He was followed by Elif Kubaşık, widow of Mehmet Kubaşık, and her counsel Carsten Ilius. Their closing statements marked the beginning of a “block” of interconnected closing statements (which our own closing statements will also form part of).

The defense tried once more to interrupt the closing statements – largely based on the same unconvincing arguments which the court had already rejected last week. They were unsuccessful. It has become apparent that the defense is attempting to sabotage the closing statements of victims and their counsel and to draw attention away from their important and moving content. In order to combat such attempts, we will not deal further with them and instead focus on the closing statements. 

Alexander Hoffmann caused a stir when he reacted to a provocation by Wohlleben defense counsel Schneiders and referred to her as a “formerly active neo-Nazi”, which Schneiders countered with a motion that this statement be recorded in the minutes of the proceedings as evidence of the crime of affront/defamation. We do not want to spend too many words on this issue: it is to be hoped that Schneiders will initiate proceedings concerning this alleged crime – given the clear evidence concerning her involvement in the Nazi party NPD and its youth wing JN, it will be easy to prove that Hoffmann’s statement was materially true. As to a further motion by the Wohlleben defense that the court ask the supervisor of prosecutor Weingarten to remove him from the trial and replace him with another prosecutor, based on allegations that Weingarten had “rushed to the support” of Hoffmann and used “Antifa jargon” in his own closing statement, this motion is so embarrassingly and obviously without any merit that we will not say anything further on the issue.

Coming to the closing statements, Mehmet Daimagüler’s statement contained two passages in which he directly addressed the accused Zschäpe and Schultze on behalf of his clients. They had the following to say to Zschäpe:

„Ms. Zschäpe, we do not accept your apology. We do not forgive you. We do not forgive you for the murder of our brother. We do not forgive you for the murder of my father. We do not forgive you for the lies you have presented to us. 

If you are willing to confront your past, if you are ever truly willing to look into the mirror without any makeup, if you are ever willing to help us find closure, write to us. If you are willing to do this will we be able to forgive you.” 

As to Carsten Schultze, the victims’ counsel noted that – notwithstanding Schultze’s honest attempts to help in finding the relevant facts – he is unbelievable when it comes to two issues: his denial of the racist views he held in the past and the downplaying of his activities in the Nazi scene, and the claim that he had never ordered the silencer that came with the Ceska murder weapon. Despite these two issues, the daughter of Ismail Yaşar had Daimagüler tell Schultze the following:

„Mr. Schultze, it is due to your help that my father, Ismail Yaşar, is not alive anymore. It is hard for me not to angry. But I do not want to be angry. I do not want to go to be angry and wake up angry. My lawyer has told me that you are the only accused who admitted his guilt. He has also told me that you were the only one who looked up when the pictures of the dead men were projected onto the courtroom walls, and that your eyes were wide with horror. I forgive you. I accept your apology. But I also want you to make amends for the acts you are guilty of. Talk to young people, go to them and tell them your story. Warn them of the Nazis and their hatred and the wrongs and suffering they cause. If you do this, then maybe one day you will be able to forgive yourself.“

Mehmet Daimagüler asked the court to sentence Schultze to a suspended prison sentence.

Following Daimagüler, Elif Kubaşık herself made a statement, which we quote in its entirety:

“My name is Elif Kubaşık. I am of Kurdish origin, of Alevite faith, resident of Dortmund, of German nationality. In 1991, my husband Mehmet, our daughter Gamze and I came to Germany as refugees and were granted political asylum. 

On 4 April 2006, my husband Mehmet was murdered by the terrorist organization NSU.

Mehmet and I loved each other very much and therefore decided to get married. He was very caring, cared very much for his family, doted on his children, he had a very close relationship with his daughter Gamze. Every person, big or small, young or old, liked him. 

I remember all the good things about Mehmet when I think of him, the kind of person he was, how beautiful he was, as a person, what a great father he was.

My heart has been buried with Mehmet. 

I believe that the strength I can show today simply comes from my relationship to him. I believe that the trust, that above all the security he gave me has made me strong.

Coming to this trial was never easy for me. Today it is not easy for me to look at these people, to withstand that, it is not easy. I was often ill after I had been here. What is especially hard for me is to bear looking at this woman. Disgusting, simply disgusting was what she said in court. Everything she said is a lie. Even the way in which she made her apology was a violation. It was as if she was insulting us. My arm became numb due to the strain of trying to hold myself together. I felt that she was making fun of us. 

But the day when the police officers from Dortmund testified was also a very bad day for me: to hear what avenues of investigation they had not followed at all, had not even looked at. 

I want for these accused to be convicted, to receive their sentences. 

But for me, a further clearing up of the facts would also have been very important.

My questions have not been answered by this trial: Why Mehmet, why a murder in Dortmund, where there supporters in Dortmund, supporters I still see today – there are so many Nazis in Dortmund –, and, very important for me, what did the state know? Many questions remain unanswered after this trial. Ms. Merkel has broken the promise she gave in 2012. 

But there is one thing I want to say in closing:

The people who did this, who committed these crimes, should not think that, because they snuffed out nine lives, we will leave this country. I live in this county, and I belong to this country. I have born two children in this country, and my grandson Mehmet was born in this country. We are a part of this county, and we will continue to live our lives here.”

Carsten Ilius followed with a broad and impressive outline of the investigations after the murder of Mehmet Kubaşik, the influence of institutional racism on these investigations, the absurd investigations against the family of the murder victim, the conscious pushing-away of self-evidence avenues of investigation concerning German racist perpetrators. His closing statement very clearly showed once more what unfathomable suffering these investigations caused to the family.

Carsten Ilius will continue his closing statement tomorrow and deal with the way the federal prosecution conducted the investigation after 2011. We will report more on his statement tomorrow. For the closing statements forming part of the common block of statements, short summaries prepared by their authors will also be published.